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StormForge FAQ

Some of our most frequently asked questions about Kubernetes, Cloud Performance, Performance Testing, Cloud Cost, & other StormForge questions & answers can be found here.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform. It enables IT and DevOps teams to manage workloads and services with a framework for running containerized applications on distributed, cloud-based systems in automated and resilient ways. Kubernetes handles dynamic resource provisioning and scaling, as well as load balancing, failover capabilities, logging, monitoring, and other fundamental IT requirements. It is a key enabling technology in artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps). 

Since it’s free, open-source software, there are many different ways to obtain, set up and run Kubernetes. Basic instructions for getting started are provided at the project’s official site (kubernetes.io), and at several other places online. Organizations can deploy a Kubernetes cluster or clusters on their own local machines, in the cloud, or in an on-premise datacenter. Alternatively, they can opt to engage with an MSP and use Kubernetes as a managed service.

Kubernetes keeps track of containerized applications, while automatically handling the scheduling, monitoring, upgrading, and relocating of containers across hosts and cloud infrastructure as needed. It can restart orphaned containers, decommission unused containers, and automatically provision resources such as CPU, memory, and storage when applications and systems need them. With Kubernetes, every containerized workload is able to take advantage of all the resources that are exposed to it, using them when it’s called for.

Let’s start with a basic description of containers. As the name suggests, containers are packages into which go all the components a software application needs to run, such as its code, libraries, dependencies, etc. Since everything is in the container, the software application has no dependencies on the machine, be it virtual or physical. With that abstraction, multiple containers can be run on multiple machines, which Kubernetes handles via clusters. A cluster is a grouping of resources that includes one master machine, along with some number of worker machines, or nodes. The master coordinates between all of the nodes.

When organizations take the cloud native approach with their key business applications and manage them with Kubernetes, StormForge’s solutions help ensure that those apps maintain the desired performance at all times. StormForge helps in two areas that are challenging in Kubernetes-driven environments – application performance optimization and load testing. Leveraging machine learning-powered automation, the solutions eliminate manual tasks and trial-and-error, replacing them with fast and dynamic analysis, adaptation, and action.

The first reason is the StormForge team. Comprised of truly world-class mathematicians, data scientists, and software engineers, the team knows what it takes to build advanced technology unparalleled functionality into software products – and that have done so with the Company’s cloud-native solutions. The second reason is experience. StormForge was first-to-market with an enterprise-grade solution for automated performance optimization for Kubernetes applications. The team has made similar, breakthrough advances on the performance testing side. With years of experience now under their belts, the StormForge team knows what it takes to deploy these solutions in demanding, real-world IT environments.

Cloud Performance

Cloud performance starts with the overall performance of the core processes of moving data from an organization’s operations to and from its cloud service provider’s environment. Beyond that, cloud performance spans the availability of services, the amount of latency, throughput levels, and more. Cloud performance also involves how the cloud network performs under varying data loads, varying numbers of concurrent users, and other events.

Key metrics in any assessment of cloud performance include the total available and total utilized storage, compute, and bandwidth resources. Another important element is elasticity – the cloud infrastructure’s ability to automatically scale up or down resources dynamically to efficiently handle ebbs and flows of activity, such as increases and decreases in concurrent users, or load levels of application traffic. Scalability, fault tolerance, and reliability are other factors that should be taken into account when assessing cloud performance.

Since cloud deployments have many distributed resources that need to communicate with each other, there are many places where latency and other performance problems can arise. To avoid these problems, teams can take several proactive steps, including the following. They should:

  • Reduce or eliminate the need for manual intervention by automating as much as possible with orchestration systems and software-driven tools.
  • Select the instance types they get from their cloud providers carefully to match their applications’ needs (compute-, storage-, or memory-intensive, etc.).
  • Choose places for data to reside so its travels across the cloud infrastructure are minimized (which will minimize bottleneck risks).
  • Monitor as many processes, resources and systems as possible. Start with the cloud provider’s tools, but augment with performance data from load balancers, databases, network devices, etc.

Cloud performance testing involves the collection and analysis of data that collectively represents the general quality, scalability, availability, and reliability of cloud infrastructure and all resources needed to support cloud-based applications. Cloud performance testing therefore measures parameters such as uptime, system throughput, latency and jitter, response times, failover efficacy, and performance level under different loads and with changing numbers of concurrent users.

Metrics needed to gauge the performance cloud implementation include available processing power (CPU), storage capacity, bandwidth, and the number of users accessing it at any given point. Elasticity is another key metric, indicating how ell and smoothly the cloud infrastructure can deal with real-time changes in demand — adding more resources during high load or consolidating the users to fewer points when the load decreases. Scalability, availability, fault tolerance, and reliability are other factors that define a good cloud infrastructure.

Performance Testing

Cloud application performance testing is the process of assessing the performance, scalability, and reliability of web applications in cloud computing environments. This testing starts with monitoring data gathered from resources that support an application in its public, private, or hybrid cloud environment. Next comes analyzing that data against benchmarks, such as those articulated in service level agreements (SLAs). If performance testing reveals that an application is not performing at the desired level, the next task is using performance data and other sources of information to locate and diagnose the problems, and take the necessary actions to resolve it. The overarching goal of cloud application performance testing, therefore, is to help to maintain application performance at desired levels, or resolve any issues that impact users and, by extension, the organization’s business.

Two major reasons why organizations move to running applications in the cloud is to optimize their performance, or to lower the cost of running those apps without negatively impacting performance – and the user’s experience. To determine whether or not organizations are actually gaining those potential benefits, they need to test application performance. By doing so, they get quantitative answers to key performance questions, such as the following. What is the actual speed, scalability, and stability of an application versus expectations? How does the application perform as the number of concurrent users rapidly increases or decreases? Is the application’s cloud costs appropriate for its usage levels?

Software testing tools evolve right along with the applications they are designed to assess. Reflecting the state of software application development and use today, prominent categories of software testing offerings widely available on the market today include tools for: automation testing, agile testing, mobile testing, load testing, and cross-browser testing.

There are many different types of application performance testing, but some of the most prevalent include the following: Load testing (checks an app’s ability to perform as expected under varying user and activity loads), stress testing (pushing an app with extreme workloads to see how it performs under high traffic or data processing requirements), spike testing (to see how an application reacts to large and sudden spikes in traffic), and scalability testing (to determine an applications effectiveness in scaling up to support an increase in user load).

With the StormForge Platform, teams can take advantage of Performance Testing as a Service. They enable them to create load tests in just minutes, and scale tests from tens to hundreds of thousands of requests per second. The StormForge Platform also enables tests that replicate the activity of millions of concurrent users. The Platform’s intuitive, user-friendly UI allows teams to easily create repeatable, automated load tests to incorporate into their CI/CD workflows. The Platform also can capture real production traffic to help teams ensure that their load testing reflects actual traffic patterns.

StormForge offers a range of performance testing packages with stepped increases that generally reflect the sizes of organization’s testing needs. The StormForge testing options start with a free offering designed for a single user. Additional available options include Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise offerings, each with increasing levels of capacity and functionality. Our pricing page includes more information on what’s included in each service tier and cost. 

The number of users, collaborators, test cases, test data, and test runs depends on the plan you select with StormForge. Currently we offer a Free Performance Testing tier in our free trial, along with Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise Performance Testing tiers. Our Application Optimization pricing is also dependent upon your plan and needs. We also offer Consulting Services to identify what your needs are and what service plan will help you reach your goals.

Our pricing page includes more information on cost and what specifically is included. Our Sales Team is happy to connect with you regarding any questions.

Cloud Cost

There are many factors that can have an impact on the costs of cloud computing.  Chief among them are the type of cloud selected (public, private, or hybrid), how much storage will be needed (i.e., data only or a full infrastructure), and the main reason for the migration (reducing IT-related OpEx, increasing business agility, disaster recovery, etc.). Cloud costs can be much less expensive than the on-premises, due to the pay-as-you-go options offered by most cloud service providers. Because of PAYG pricing automated and elastic scaling capabilities (both up and down) also help to control cloud computing costs. There are too many variables and differences between what organizations want in their cloud computing deployments to come up with useful costs estimates. However, the ‘Big Three’ providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure, all have estimated pricing calculators on their sites.

There are several reasons why moving applications to the cloud yields operational and financial benefits. Among the main drivers are flexible pricing, nearly effortless scaling, assured uptime and availability, faster load times and generally faster performance, easy server set-up, freedom from paying for and managing costly data center facilities with all their hardware, and reliable failover and redundancy. To all of that, add lower operating costs.

There is no simple and quick answer to this question because the real answer is “It depends.” Cloud migration is a complex process. To arrive at an estimated cost (and anticipated benefits, for that matter), an organization needs to take a strategic, holistic approach that aims to understand and capture all of the factors that impact such a migration. 

Application Optimization

Application optimization is the process of tuning, testing, and re-tuning an application’s parameters and configuration settings such that its operational performance is in line with the organization’s preference – whether that be for top performance, lowest cost, highest speed, or some other specific parameter. 

There are two ways to optimize an application: The first is handling the task manually, which involves a human going in and manually changing settings or parameters. Then he or she checks the application’s performance to gauge how the changes impacted results, and then continuing the trial-and-error cycle until results move in the right direction. For these reasons, the manual approach is time-consuming, error-prone, and most often, ineffective.

The alternative is automated optimization of application performance that is software-defined – driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Given the huge numbers of variables involved with cloud-based applications, and the complexity of testing, adjusting and re-testing millions of combinations of variables, the automated approach is far superior to any manually-based efforts.

Getting an application’s performance optimized is important for several reasons. First, it means that the application will operate as the users expect – in terms of availability, reliability, speed, responsiveness, etc. The second reason is financial. Over-provisioning cloud apps is one way to help ensure that they run well, but doing so can drive costs through the roof. Properly optimized applications perform well under load, but do so in a cost-effective way with ‘just right’ provisioning. 

StormForge is a top innovator and industry-leading provider of solutions that deliver automated application performance optimization.  The StormForge team of world-class data scientists, machine learning experts and seasoned DevOps engineers are committed to building products that drive operational improvements through better software performance and more effective resource utilization.

About StormForge

StormForge is the single, unified software company that emerged following Carbon Relay’s acquisition of StormForger in November of 2020. The company’s team of world-class data scientists, machine learning experts and seasoned DevOps engineers. build products that drive operational improvements through better software performance and more effective resource utilization. StormForge’s main software offerings are automated performance testing and performance optimization of Kubernetes applications.

StormForge builds AI and machine learning-powered software products that are designed to help people, not replace them. StormForge’s solutions uniquely occupy a middle ground between machine and human intelligence where they leverage the strengths of both for maximum effectiveness. The team’s main focus is on enabling customers’ DevOps and Engineering teams to build into their products a core layer of proactive application optimization, along with enhanced performance and load testing capabilities. StormForge also makes it easy for customers to integrate these key functions into the CI/CD development processes.

StormForge offers solutions for application optimization and performance testing for your Kubernetes applications. They also offer a full range of Professional Services that are designed to help customers make smooth transitions from their monolithic apps to microservices running in containers orchestrated by Kubernetes. The company’s services help to bridge customers from their legacy approaches to next-generation environments, while ensuring performance, reliability, and cost-efficiency. 

StormForge does not build your applications for you, but we do help you optimize them. Our Professional Services team has years of experience in DevOps, development, and cloud-native to help you reach your goals. We offer Application QuickStart, Kubernetes auditing and guidance to integrate best practices and help you navigate the complexities of Kubernetes, Educational Services to train your DevOps team on how to receive the most out of StormForge Services, and Custom Services based on your specific cloud-native transformation needs. For more information, please visit our Professional Services page.

The most efficient way to contact StormForge is by visiting our Contact Us page. There you will find ways to contact Sales, Technical Support, Press / Media inquiries, our phone numbers, and office locations.

General inquiries can also be made by phone at +1 (857) 233 9831‬ or via email at info@stormforge.io.

StormForge offers a full range of Professional Services and offerings. The company’s Services team members can guide customers through all stages of the DevOps lifecycle. Our experienced and hands-on team delivers to customers the technical expertise, oversight, and guidance they need to ensure reliability and performance before their products are released. Specific service offerings include Application Quick Start, Kubernetes Auditing & Guidance, and Education Service. For customers with unique or specific requirements, StormForge also offers Custom Consulting Services.

For more information on these offerings, visit the Professional Services page.

Carbon Relay acquired StormForger in November of 2020, and rebranded the newly combined companies as StormForge, a single, unified entity. We invite you to view our Press Release for more details.